Category Archives: Travel

Top 5 January To-Dos for a Simpler 2015

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I am not in the habit of making new years resolutions. However, there are a few things that I will be doing this month to help simplify 2015. This is not a definitive list, but by adding these items to your January ‘to-do’ list, you’ll be on your own Journey to Simple in 2015.

Make your holiday gift list for 2015
I know this may sound like overkill, but take a moment to recall the busyness leading up to Christmas 2014 and you’ll be convinced. Writing a gift list early in the year will enable you to take advantage of sales throughout the year. You can also chip away at the list one gift at a time instead of the panicked shopping spree the week before Christmas. The greatest benefit for me is the early reminder to start making homemade gifts. I am the slowest knitter in world, so I better start knitting my Dad’s 2015 Christmas scarf now.

2) Clean out your freezer
Throw out the freezer burnt items, pull everything out, make an inventory, do whatever you need to do to make sure that you are eating everything that you have in your freezer. I live in such a cold climate, that I go a little loopy when Farmer’s Market season hits in June or July. I want to eat all of the fresh local produce I can, so I don’t touch anything in my freezer until the snow flies. Cleaning out your freezer now will help ensure that you eat everything this winter and will eliminate the waste that can come with leaving everything untouched during the summer months.

3) Plan your vacation days (for the entire year)
Yes, I am the person submitting an entire year’s worth of vacation day requests on January 2nd. Knowing that I can take time off when I hope to makes it possible to plan everything else that happens all year. I can go ahead and book my campground sites and buy my event tickets without any concern about whether or not I can get the time off. Also, requesting holiday days forces you to think about the finances involved in planning a trip, the family you may want to visit, or the home projects that need to get done. Do yourself a favour, and plan your year in January.

4) Pick an organizing project
A big part of my personal Journey to Simple is home organization. I may want my goal for 2015 to be a perfectly organized home, but I know that is unrealistic (that’s why it’s a journey). Remove the pressure for perfection and pick one big project. For me, 2015 will be the year of paper. I will prioritize the filing cabinet and boxes full of notes, projects, music, and bills. Pick one project and give yourself permission to break it up into smaller projects throughout the year.

5) Make a money date with yourself
For the third year in a row, my husband and I will be setting aside time on New Year’s day to talk about money. This fifth ‘to-do’ item will impact all other tasks that you accomplish this year. Some people find talking and thinking about money stressful and complicated. Simplify your life and your year by making some decisions about money in January. How much will my holiday cost? What will the new deck cost? How much can I save? How much can I give to charity? By setting aside a specific time (even once a year) to consider some of these questions, you eliminate the anxiety that comes with unspoken and unrealized financial goals and plans.

Take some time this month to simplify 2015.

I would love to hear what you are doing to make 2015 a simple year. Leave a comment below.

Traveling Light #2: Never Check a Piece of Luggage Again

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This is the second in a series of three blogs/videos about traveling light. Never checking luggage again involved making three major decisions. The first decision is what bag/suitcase will I use as my carry-on bag? The second decision is what to put in that bag. The third decision is how to pack that bag.

Our first blog/video in the travel light series covered some of the options for the first decision: What bag will I take as my carry-on? This post deals with the second decision: What will I pack in my carry-on. I have made a video that covers some of my thought process when it comes to deciding what to pack. I use the example of a two week trip that my husband and I took last summer to illustrate my packing list choices. A complete packing list can be found at the end of this post.

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your favourite traveling light tips!

Packing list (actual packing list for a two week trip to Newfoundland, Canada in June 2013)
ipad and case
ipad charger
hotel/car rental/flight information
collapsible backpack
3 pairs of wool socks
6 pairs of underwear
2 pairs of pants
1 dress
2 sports bras
3 shirts (2 short sleeve and 1 long sleeve)
1 cardigan
pajama pants
pajama shirt
map of Newfoundland
Toiletries (toothbrush, hair brush, small bottle of face wash, small bottle of sunscreen, mouth guard)
1 pair of shoes
1 pair of sandals
jewelry (2 necklaces and 3 pairs of earrings)
knitting project

Wear on the plane:
hiking shoes
rain jacket
lightweight wool jacket
tank top
long sleeve shirt
wool socks

Traveling Light #1: Never Check a Piece of Luggage Again

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This is the first in a series of three blogs/videos about traveling light. When it comes to my Journey to Simple, travel is a big area for me. My whole interest in simplicity began with a lost piece of luggage. After losing that piece of luggage, I became interested (obsessed?) with coming up with a packing system to ensure that I would never have to check another piece of luggage again. The first decision I needed to make was what bag/suitcase will I use as my carry-on bag? The second step involved deciding just what to put in that bag. The third and final step in the system involved packing the bag. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

This post will deal specifically with what bag/suitcase to use as your carry-on luggage. Instead of writing out a lengthly description of some of the best options that I have found, I have made a brief video to cover some of the details.

Luggage links:

Mountain Equipment Coop – Shuttle III

Onkka Bags

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your favourite traveling light tips!

It all started with a suitcase…

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This is a blog about simple living.  Or rather, it’s about the Journey to Simple living.  A simple lifestyle comes naturally to some people.  If you are one of these people, this blog is not of you (just kidding, this blog is for everyone).  For many of us, myself included, simplicity takes intentionality.    For me, the Journey to Simple started with a suitcase…

Two years ago I was traveling to friend’s wedding in Ohio.  I took a flight to Toronto, and then caught a connecting flight to Columbus, Ohio.  I landed in Toronto and headed for the baggage claim area next to US customs.  I waited…and waited…..and waited.  I was there for two hours and my bag did not show up.  I was going to miss my flight if I waited any longer, so I went through customs and took the flight to Ohio.

Now, I consider traveling by plane a privilege and I realize that mistakes will happen every now and again.  But as I sat there on my flight to Ohio, I could not help but make a mental list of every item that I had packed in my now misplaced bag.  I had a new dress for the wedding, an outfit for the rehearsal dinner, a hair straightener, additional clothing, etc…  I added it all up in my head and realized that I had over $1000 worth of items in my small bag.  The worst part is that it was a carry on size bag.  I could have brought it on the plane.  I didn’t bring it on the plane because I never want to be the person struggling to shove my roller bag into the overhead compartment.  At 4’11”, I can barely reach the overhead compartment as it is.

In the end, I bought some great new clothes and my bag arrived back in my home town the following week. Even though it all worked out, I couldn’t help but dwell on the sense of anxiety that I felt when I thought that my bag may never be found.  It all seemed so senseless.  Why had I checked a bag at all?  I was only going away for four days.  I retuned from that trip vowing to never check a piece of luggage again.  I had a strange new commitment to travel light wherever I went.  Little did I know, this would spark a new journey to simplify every aspect of my life.

Many things have changed since this trip, but my interest and commitment to simplify every aspect of my life is still going strong.  I hope to use this blog to share some of the lessons that I have learned so far and the efforts that are to come as I continue on my Journey to Simple.  I hope that you find it helpful as you start or continue your own Journey to Simple.

Don’t forget to leave a comment about how your Journey to Simple for started!